Fate has a way of working things out.
Or at least bringing people together. Learning how to navigate literary journals is all a part of the publishing / MFA process. Inundated with all types of journals it’s quite common for one to daydream about starting a literary journal of his or her own. I know I always had this thought in the back of my mind and even joked about it with friends one day when we’re ‘famous’ we’ll start our own journal…
Well, writers rarely become famous unless it’s with other writers. Post-MFA my fellow writer friends and I are, indeed, not famous. We are anything but; some of us are lucky enough to have jobs while others are struggling on the job market, applying to any and all fellowships, residencies, and teaching jobs (including comp). It can be frustrating and you wonder maybe my parents, family, friends, advisors, society, whoever were all right; like it says in the Avenue Q Broadway play “What do you do with a BA in English?” and on top of that, an MFA in creative writing? There are nights I stay up wondering what kind of life have I created for myself by choosing my passion over something more responsible with a direct career path laid out like med or law school…
But those nights are rare because I know I am living a life doing what makes me happy. Being able to find a unique combination of words that generate an emotion or thought in the mind of another human being and being able to stir something in his/her memory is a gift. And if you’ve been reading my letters to you Dear Reader, you know that honoring the gifts the Creator has given you is one of the tenets I live my life by.
In my last letter I talked about embracing the shuffle and being ok with things not going exactly as planned. I’d have to say that more recently this lesson of your unplanned actually is part of the Creator’s plan has held true.
The older (haha one day I will no longer be such a “young” poet) I get the more I understand that through the muck and mess of it all, life has a way of sorting things out. It is through things – jobs, careers, relationships, etc – falling apart that our paths inevitably come together as higher powers intended. At least they seem to and it’s only years (or in this case months later) you are blessed with the gift of hindsight and can see why things happened the way they did. It all seems to be for a reason. Yes, my dear Reader, Life unfolds as it needs to and things have a way of working out.
A recent example comes from this past summer. One of my program’s instructors quit last minute. A friend of mine who had been job searching and applying to fellowships unfortunately did not have anything lined up for the summer. But, fortunate for us and we were able to get her a position teaching for the class we needed. For seven weeks Casandra would sleep on my couch and we’d spend a summer together in Boulder both working for a program I am passion about.
A summer in Boulder for Naropa means their Summer Writing Program. One week they brought out a Native American writer I knew, he invited me out with him and a few other writers. During this outing I met Christine Trudeau, a student at the Institute for American Indian Arts; then I didn’t know that Christine would become a friend and also fellow co-founder for a new journal.
Two days later Casandra, Christine, and I were out and about in Boulder, talking poetry, writing, and how do/will we make it (publishing, writing, life, work, paying the bills while balancing our ambitions, etc.) work. Then, the idea of starting our own literary journal, specifically for indigenous women writer’s came up. Eagerly, Christine, Casandra, and I (with the encouragement of my unnamed Native writer male friend) decided this wasn’t just a pipe dream – no, this was not only good, but needed in our society and for this generation.
In this typically white male-dominated realm of publishing we wanted to create a new space, a space for women writers like us. As us, there are other women in the world who feel writing’s calling, women who render their worlds with words. As women writers we have a responsibility to honor the gifts we’ve been given and in our case, that is the gift of words. And it’s not enough to just write our demons, our ambitions, our hopes, and whatever messages we feel we’ve been charged with. No – we have to create spaces for each other to help open doors and gateways that allow access to each other and others who may want to read our work. I was raised with the belief that it is never about you, it’s about honoring those who came before you that made it possible for you to be where you are and it’s about those who will come after…because of you.
Less than a month after our initial meeting as three indigenous writers who (because of connections, because of ‘fate’, because of our fabulously blessed broken paths) met at the Boulderado in Boulder, CO, we started our journal As/Us: A Literary Space for Women of the World.
We are currently open for submissions and we seek to publish both emerging and established women writers. It is our hope that As/Us will be a convergence of international voices that speak to both diverse and shared experiences. We want work with purpose, vision, and something at stake, work that deserves a space in the world.
While we haven’t put out our first issue yet (our submission deadline is November 2nd with our 1st issue slated for a late December publication), I am hopeful. We are getting good submissions and something deep in my gut tells me this is right, this is needed. We don’t have to be “famous” to follow our dreams, this is happening and it will continue.
So wherever you are Dear Reader, with whatever your struggling with I hope you know that it all serves a purpose that we cannot always readily see. Look back at all of your successes and I’m sure you’ll see… all of the things that didn’t work out exactly how you planned all helped get to where you are now. If I hadn’t lost a friend, I wouldn’t have been plan less or needed poetry like I do, if I hadn’t come to UNM over Columbia I wouldn’t have met Casandra, if I hadn’t been in Boulder that summer we wouldn’t have met Christine and this wouldn’t be happening. I’m sure we all have so many stories like this…our own unfolding causing us to figure out our stories and who we are meant to have (and who isn’t meant to stay ) in our lives.
So remember Dear Reader to give peace in your heart, faith at your side, and follow the paths of those gifts you were given. We are, we will, all see our dreams come to pass.